Overall | Doctor Who-The Invisible Enemy (1977) | K-9 & Company-A Girl's Best Friend (1981)

Doctor Who-K-9 Tales (1977)

Doctor Who-K-9 Tales (1977)

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Released 4-Sep-2008

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Overall Package

    A fun collection of shows featuring the mechanical dog from Doctor Who, the serial he first appeared in and a spin-off show from 1981. Quality set with loads of good extras. Well worth adding to your classic Doctor Who collection. The two discs are housed in separate amaray cases which in turn are housed in a cardboard slipcover.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Other Reviews NONE
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Overall | Doctor Who-The Invisible Enemy (1977) | K-9 & Company-A Girl's Best Friend (1981)

Doctor Who-The Invisible Enemy (1977)

Doctor Who-The Invisible Enemy (1977)

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Released 4-Sep-2008

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Menu Animation & Audio
Main Menu Introduction
Trivia
Alternative Version
Featurette-Making Of
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette
Trailer
Easter Egg
Gallery-Photo
DVD-ROM Extras
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 93:13 (Case: 164)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Derrick Goodwin
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Baker
Louise Jameson
Michael Sheard
Brian Grellis
Edmund Pegge
Jay Neill
Anthony Rowlands
John Leeson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Dudley Simpson
Barry Newbery
Raymond Hughes


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Information
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It is quite incredible to think that this particular serial, The Invisible Enemy, was made over 30 years ago in 1977 and that at the time Doctor Who was in its 15th season on the BBC. The longevity of this series and character is quite incredible. This particular serial is notable for one main reason; it is the first serial to feature one of the Doctor's most famous and best loved companions, K-9 (voiced by John Leeson). It is from the Tom Baker era, being part of his fourth season wearing the long scarf. His companion is Leela (Louise Jameson), the huntress from the future. This disc is only available as part of a two disc set called K-9 Tales. It also includes a disc called K-9 & Company which was an early 1980s attempted spinoff series. This will be reviewed separately.

     The story here involves a shuttle flying through space in the year 5000 on its way to the station on Titan. Along the way they are attacked by an enemy they cannot see who infects the crews’ minds with a virus. This virus makes them think that they must fulfil 'the purpose' by preparing a place for 'the nucleus' to breed. At the same time, the TARDIS stops in mid flight and the same virus attacks The Doctor and Leela, although only The Doctor is infected. He is implanted with 'the nucleus' and despite fighting the effects of the virus becomes involved in the plans of the crew to create The Swarm. To attempt to treat the virus they take The Doctor to a local clinic run by Professor Marius. He has a pet Robot dog, K-9, who he created himself as he couldn't bring a real dog to space. K-9 helps the Doctor and Leela in their fight against The Swarm.

     This particular set of 4 episodes is a good story inspired quite a lot by the movie Fantastic Voyage as part of the solution to The Swarm is to inject tiny clones of The Doctor and Leela into The Doctor's brain. The Doctor is quite cranky and more than a little derisive of Leela in these episodes, which may be partially related to the difficult working relationship between Tom Baker and Louise Jameson. K-9 makes a great debut in these episodes getting into the thick of the action both verbally and with his 'offensive capability'. Obviously, this serial was made in 1977 so the visual effects and sets look pretty dodgy by modern standards. One extra on the disc is the ability to watch the show with redone special effects. I used this serial to introduce my two young boys to Doctor Who and they loved every minute of it and were keen to watch it again. For those who are counting, these are episodes 5-8 of the 15th Season of the show.

    Thoroughly enjoyable.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is excellent considering the source is a 1970s television show. There has obviously been a bit of work done to restore this.

     The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio, non 16x9 enhanced which would be the original aspect ratio. The picture was surprisingly sharp and clear considering the source. Shadow detail is good but most scenes are brightly lit. There is also some occasional very light grain. The colour was very good for the age. There was some flaring of colour during motion.

     Other artefacts included some edge enhancement but no specks or dirt.

     There are subtitles in English which are accurate but a little small and thin for my liking. Another subtitle track provides trivia and is covered in the extras below.

     The layer change is not noticeable during playback and is probably between episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good considering the source.

    This DVD contains one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s. There is also a commentary track with the same specs.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout.

    The music by Dudley Simpson was quite good providing drama and excitement but occasionally lapsed into slightly strange electronica. Sound quality wise it comes across well although there was some occasional distortion.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Lots of extras. Subtitles are available.

Menu

     The menu features music, action and an intro.

Inner Sleeve

     The sleeve includes an essay plus information about the extras and the people involved.

Trivia Track

     As mentioned above, an optional trivia subtitle track is available which relays lots of interesting information about the production, casting and the props and sets. Excellent for fans.

CGI Effects

     Using Multi-angle the disc allows for the episode to be played either with the original effects or with recent but sympathetic CGI effects instead. Nice extra feature.

Dreams & Fantasy (20:37)

     16x9 enhanced. This is a recently made making of featurette covering this serial's place in the series, the desire to do story in different places than earth, why K-9 came to be, issues with building and using K-9 and other interesting topics. Includes modern interviews with various cast and crew members.

Audio Commentary - Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (Voice of K-9), Bob Baker (Writer) & Mat Irvine (Visual Effects Designer)

     An excellent combination of interesting people were brought together for this commentary on all episodes. They enjoy themselves and provide lots of interesting information about the cast, visual effects and problems during shooting. There are also funny anecdotes and interesting trivia. Well worth a listen.

Studio Sweepings (20:34)

     Worth having but probably only for Doctor geeks. This is extra footage from the shooting which shows some of the way effects were shot but doesn't really amount to much. Alternate shots rather than deleted scenes.

Visual Effect (16:27)

     Featurette hosted by Visual Effects Designer, Mat Irvine. He meets up with one of his old colleagues and they discuss the use of models on the show and have some of the original models to discuss. Interesting stuff.

Blue Peter (4:33)

     K-9 appearing on the kid's show, Blue Peter and freaking out their on set dog.

Trailers and Continuity (3:48)

    Various bits and pieces of promo material.

Photo Gallery (5:07)

     Various shots from the production set to music from the score.

    

Coming Soon (1:01)

     Trailer for DVD release of Brain of Morbius.

Easter Egg (1:16)

     (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Go left from Visual Effect on the main special features menu to find a short piece of K-9 appearing on a BBC Dog Judging show and scaring the competitors.

DVD-ROM Extras

     A pdf of the original Radio Times television guide listings can be found on the disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 (and other) releases seem to be exactly the same. Draw

Summary

    A 1977 Doctor Who serial that is notable for being the first appearance of K-9.

    The video quality is excellent considering the age of the source.

    The audio quality is good.

    Lots of quality extras are included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
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Overall | Doctor Who-The Invisible Enemy (1977) | K-9 & Company-A Girl's Best Friend (1981)

K-9 & Company-A Girl's Best Friend (1981)

K-9 & Company-A Girl's Best Friend (1981)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 4-Sep-2008

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Main Menu Introduction
Booklet
Reversible Cover
Featurette
Interviews-Character
Trailer
Trivia
Audio Commentary
Gallery-Photo
DVD-ROM Extras-Multiple
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 50:00 (Case: 74)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Black
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Elizabeth Sladen
John Leeson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI Box Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    One of Doctor Who's most famous and best loved companions, K-9 (voiced by John Leeson), was introduced to the series in 1977 as part of the serial,  The Invisible Enemy which I reviewed recently. The subject of this review is K-9 & Company which was an early 1980s attempted spinoff series. These two titles make up a two disc set called K-9 Tales.

    K-9 & Company was certainly a valid idea using the popularity of two previous Doctor Who companions (K-9 and Sarah Jane (Elizabeth Sladen)) to build a new series around. Unfortunately, the delivery of that idea was pretty ordinary and after one show, which screened just after Christmas in 1981, the series was canned. Recently a new K-9 series has been made, this time animated. The biggest problem with this show to my mind is that the storyline seems to have been stolen from a show like Midsomer Murders rather than be anything like Doctor Who. It is very questionable whether the first show of a series featuring a character extremely popular with children should feature devil worshipping, human sacrifice and murder. Even K-9 points out in his interview in the extras that he was not sure that grisly murder mysteries was where he wanted to go with his career at the time. Throw into the mix some smoking and alcohol consumption and it becomes fairly dodgy for the littlies.

    The story follows Sarah Jane as she moves into her Aunt Lavinia's house in a small village while her aunt is away in America. Here she starts to meet some strange people who don't seem overly friendly. Her Aunt's ward, Brendan, comes home from boarding school to stay. Sarah Jane finds a large crate marked to her attention and discovers K-9 Mark III inside who says he is a gift from the Doctor. Pretty quickly Sarah Jane, Brendan and K-9 are involved in dangerous local goings on and they must try to work out who is responsible, especially when Brendan is attacked and Aunt Livinia seems to have gone missing.

    On a positive note, K-9 is as usual dryly amusing and the show does not outstay its welcome at only 1x50 minute episode. The theme song and credits for the show are quite funny but not on purpose, which Elizabeth Sladen comments on in the commentary.

    A good addition to the K-9 set and worthwhile for Doctor Who completists. But this is not the place to start in the Doctor Who universe.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good considering the source.

    The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio, non 16x9 enhanced which would be the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was reasonably sharp and clear and would seem to have had some restoration work done. Shadow detail is decent. There is some regular grain.

    The colour was quite good for the age but dull compared to more modern shows. There was some flaring of bright yellows and bleeding from light colours.

    Other artefacts included some very minor aliasing.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which are accurate but a little small and thin for my liking. Another subtitle track provides trivia and is covered in the extras below.

    There is no layer change.

   
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good considering the source.

    This DVD contains one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s. There is also a commentary track with the same specs.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout.

    The music was unobtrusive during the show however the theme was quite strange and dated.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Lots of extras. Subtitles are available.

Menu

    The menu features music, action and an intro.

Booklet

    The booklet includes an essay plus information about the extras and the people involved.

Reversible Slick

    You can choose either a specific cover this show or one that is the same design style as the other classic Doctor Who discs.

Trivia Track

    An optional trivia subtitle track is available which relays lots of interesting information about the production, casting, locations, cut scenes and the props and sets. Excellent for fans.

The K-9 Files (11:41)

    2007 Featurette about the character K-9, his popularity, shooting issues, how Mark III was different and why this show got canned. Interviews with cast and crew included. Worth watching

K-9 - A Dog's Tale (3:28)

    A joke interview with the character K-9 where he talks about his career aspirations and why this show wasn't were he wanted his career to go. Good stuff.

Trailers and Continuity (2:11)

    Various bits and pieces of promo material.

Audio Commentary - Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane), John Leeson (Voice of K-9), Linda Polan (Juno Baker) & Eric Saward (Script Editor)

    A good selection of people are involved here and they discuss their reminiscences and feelings about this show. They are fairly critical of the end outcome and honest in their appraisal. Another quality extra.

Photo Gallery (3:04)

    Various shots from the production set to music from the score.

Coming Soon (1:01)

    Trailer for DVD release of Brain of Morbius.

DVD-ROM Extras

    Various pdfs can be found on the disc including

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 (and other) releases seem to be exactly the same. Draw

Summary

    A 1981 spin-off from Doctor Who which did not make it past this first episode.

    The video is good considering the age of the source.

    The audio is good.

    Lots of quality extras are included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, July 12, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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